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The neglected millions: the global state of aquaculture workers’ occupational safety, health and well-being
  1. Andrew Watterson1,
  2. Mohamed Fareed Jeebhay2,
  3. Barbara Neis3,
  4. Rebecca Mitchell4,
  5. Lissandra Cavalli5
  1. 1 Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK
  2. 2 Occupational Medicine Division, and Centre for Environmental & Occupational Health Research (CEOHR), University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
  3. 3 Sociology, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada
  4. 4 Australian Institute of Health Innovation, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  5. 5 Department of Agricultural Diagnosis and Research, Secretary of Agriculture of Rio Grande do Sul, Health and Technological Innovation in Aquaculture, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
  1. Correspondence to Dr Andrew Watterson, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, UK; aew1{at}


A scoping project was funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization in 2017 on the health and safety of aquaculture workers. This project developed a template covering basic types of aquaculture production, health and safety hazards and risks, and related data on injuries and occupational ill health, regulations, social welfare conditions, and labour and industry activity in the sector. Profiles using the template were then produced for key aquaculture regions and nations across the globe where information could be obtained. These revealed both the scale and depth of occupational safety and health (OSH) challenges in terms of data gaps, a lack of or poor risk assessment and management, inadequate monitoring and regulation, and limited information generally about aquaculture OSH. Risks are especially high for offshore/marine aquaculture workers. Good practice as well as barriers to improving aquaculture OSH were noted. The findings from the profiles were brought together in an analysis of current knowledge on injury and work-related ill health, standards and regulation, non-work socioeconomic factors affecting aquaculture OSH, and the role of labour and industry in dealing with aquaculture OSH challenges. Some examples of governmental and labour, industry and non-governmental organisation good practice were identified. Some databases on injury and disease in the sector and research initiatives that solved problems were noted. However, there are many challenges especially in rural and remote areas across Asia but also in the northern hemisphere that need to be addressed. Action now is possible based on the knowledge available, with further research an important but secondary objective.

  • International occupational health
  • aquaculture health and safety

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  • Contributors All authors contributed equally to the planning, design and conduct of the study and content of the manuscript. AW coordinated the project, wrote the first draft of the paper and submitted the final approved version after incorporating contributions from all authors.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors. The FAO funded the original scoping exercise.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement There are no data in this work. Data are available upon reasonable request.